Brad Silberling

Brad Silberling

Born in Washington, D.C., Silberling was raised by his father, Robert, a producer and former vice president of CBS Entertainment, and his mother, Joyce, a travel consultant and owner of the corporate travel incentive program, Meetings and Incentives International. Growing up the son of a successful producer and production executive, Silberling naturally gravitated toward the entertainment industry, which started when he made short silent movies with a Super-8 camera as a child. After earning his bachelor's degree from the University of California, Santa Barbara, he attended the master's program in directing at the University of California, Los Angeles, emerging with his diploma in 1987. While still attending UCLA, Silberling began working on a children's television show as a production assistant - his first professional entrée into show business. His senior thesis, a 25-minute short called "Repairs," earned him some notice at Universal Studios, but little came of the connection. He did, however, establish his own foothold inside an industry he had only been a part of through his father.Around this time, Silberling met beautiful aspiring actress, Rebecca Schaeffer, whom he began dating after being set up on a blind date. Both were just beginning their careers, though Schaeffer was catapulted to celebrity when she landed a starring role on the short-lived sitcom, "My Sister Sam" (CBS, 1986-88). But their union ended tragically when an obsessed fan, Robert John Bardo, found Schaeffer's address through a private investigator, arrived at her home with a gun and shot her in the chest in the summer of 1989. She was pronounced dead 30 minutes later. Despite the tragedy and its notoriety as the first major fan-committed celebrity murder since Beatle John Lennon in 1980, a grieving Silberling shouldered on, making strides in his career by directing episodes of several popular television shows, including "Doogie Howser, M.D." (ABC, 1989-1993) and "L.A. Law" (NBC, 1986-1994). In 1992, Silberling directed episodes of the short-lived Fox sitcom "Great Scott," on which he also served as supervising producer. He later helmed episodes of the period drama "Brooklyn Bridge" (CBS, 1991-93) for creator Gary David Goldberg, which caught the attention of Steven Spielberg who hired him to direct "Casper" (1995). Silberling's first feature - a run-of-the-mill family film that was visually stunning - grossed more than $100 million in domestic box office, proving that he could turn a profit for the bosses upstairs.Silberling returned to television, becoming a regular director on the critically acclaimed cop drama, "NYPD Blue" (ABC, 1993-2005). It was on the show that he met Amy Brenneman, whom he married in 1995 after a six-year period of working through his loss and anger over Schaeffer's murder. He followed up with his next feature, "City of Angels" (1998), which was loosely inspired by Wim Wenders' "Wings of Desire" (1987). The story focused on the romance that develops between an angel (Nicolas Cage) and the woman (Meg Ryan) sent to watch over him. After co-founding the Cornerstone Theatre Co. in Los Angeles with Brenneman, Silberling directed episodes of "Felicity" (ABC, 1998-2002) and his wife's hit show, "Judging Amy" (CBS, 1999-2005). Following a decade of dealing with the complex emotions involved in losing Schaeffer, Silberling directed "Moonlight Mile" (2002) from a script he wrote about dealing with her death. The deeply personal drama told the story of a young man (Jake Gyllenhaal) who develops a relationship with the parents (Dustin Hoffman and Susan Sarandon) of his deceased fiancée (Careena Melia) - a relationship he, himself, had forged post-murder. Despite initial wariness by the studios to make a film based on a real death, Silberling nonetheless managed to get his movie made, though solid critical reviews were not enough to boost attendance to warrant more than a limited release.Back to making studio pictures, Silberling directed "Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events" (2004), based on the series of popular children's books and starring Jim Carrey as the evil Count Olaf, who tries in vain to steal a large fortune from three orphaned children. Silberling returned to more down-to-earth fare with "10 Items or Less" (2006), a small, but winning drama about an aging Hollywood icon (Morgan Freeman) who strikes up an unlikely friendship with a sharp-tongued grocery store clerk (Paz Vega). He next directed Will Ferrell in "Land of the Lost" (2009), a parody of the long-remembered television show from the 1970s by Sid and Marty Krofft. Despite the high-profile of star Ferrell, the comedy proved to be a bomb at the box office, earning less than $20 million its opening weekend.